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Macau gambles on tower power

Construction of the tower began in June 1998
Construction of the tower began in June 1998  

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- The world's tenth tallest tower has opened in Macau, in a bid to pull more tourists to the gambling-mad territory.

Standing at 338 meters (1110 feet), the Macau Tower is the work of casino mogul Stanley Ho, one of Asia's wealthiest men.

Ho had hoped the tower would be completed in time for Macau's handover to Chinese rule in December 1999, but a series of technical difficulties delayed the project.

With an entrance fee of about $9 Ho is betting the tower will add another tourist attraction to the former Portuguese territory, visited by mainland Chinese and Hong Kongers mainly for its gambling houses.

The tower includes indoor and outdoor observation decks, a convention and entertainment center, a shopping center and a revolving restaurant at the top.

Officials estimate the tower cost $130 million to build.

For Ho and his company, Sociedade de Turismo Diversoes de Macau (STDM), the completion of the tower also marks the end of a 40-year monopoly on Macau's gambling industry.

The Macau government has opened up the industry to tenders and is expected to allow up to two more operators to open casinos in 2002.


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